All these years I’ve never given a second thought to the amount of taxes I pay on my vehicles. I’ve always just looked at the assessed value on my registration document and seen that it is considerably less than the “real” value and figured I’m getting bargain. That is until I paid attention to a little card that my county assessor’s office mailed me printed with the market value of my wife’s car.

$15,300 Is a ridiculously high value on a vehicle with 144,000 miles and parking lot damage. Now I will grant that the way the state assesses property for the year is by taking a value from October 1 of the previous year and applying that value starting January 1 of the next year. The value for all of 2015 is from October 1, 2014. (So they are already getting a bump in value that you are powerless to do anything about.)

Still, I know this can’t be a good value. Lets see what the online car valuations say: First NADA online guide done on the vehicle on October 1, 2015:

And KBB

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And finally Edmunds.com

Obviously Edmunds is low price. Retail is about half what the state says it should be.

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Armed with these numbers, I contacted Edmunds.com to get a free historical price on the car for October 1, 2014. (I believe NADA and KBB will do this for a price...but free is better).

Challenge your vehicle's value to save money on vehicle registration taxes.

(Edmunds.com)

Oct 13, 9:07 AM

The vehicles as submitted in your request hold the following Used TMV values as of October 1, 2014:

2006 Lexus RX 400h 4dr SUV (3.3L 6cyl gas/electric hybrid CVT)

Retail Value: $10,069

Private Party Value: $8,450

Trade-in Value: $7,231

We hope this information was helpful to you. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.

Thanks,

Nathan...
Live Help Specialist

Armed with this historical price ($10,069) I looked up the relevent regulations that the state uses to develop their vehicle values.

(2) PROCEDURES
To ensure the equitable taxation of motor vehicles ... the Property Tax Division ... shall determine the market value of vehicles using industry and other market sources having knowledge of average retail value by make, model, and type of motor vehicles. The market value shall be 89% of the determined retail value of the motor vehicle in order to account for pollution control equipment, depreciation, and the condition of the vehicle.

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Given that I have a retail value of $10,069, I took 89% of that as stated in the regulations and used that as my opinion of value, which is $8961.41.

Now I can protest the value as it states in another part of the regulation.

(d) A valuation placed on a motor vehicle may be protested before the County Board of Equalization. The objection must be submitted in writing to the secretary of the Board not later than ten calendar days from the date taxes were paid.

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On the county website was a handy form that is used to protest valuations:

I filled out the form as indicated, and under the nature of complaint I put:

“Vehicle’s assessed value is in excess of the retail value given condition and mileage. Vehicle has visible parking lot damage to front bumper, rear hatch and rear quarter.”

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As my evidence I put:

“Current retail appraisal from Edmunds.com ($8457). Historical retail appraisal on 10/1/14 ($10069). Owner’s opinion of value is 89% of 2014 value under 810-4-1-.18 Assessment Procedures. Photos of damage attached.”

I compiled copies of my Edmunds appraisals along with photos of the damage on my car and submitted it to the county board of equalization office as instructed.

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Just now I received the following email:

Dear: Sir or Madam:

Year:2006 Make: LEXUS Model: RX400H

We wish to advise you that an oral hearing has been set for you to protest the renewal value of $15300 for the above listed vehicle. If someone will be representing you at your hearing that person must have written and assigned authorization. This includes spouses not listed as owner.

Your hearing has been set on 10/27/2015 at 10:00:00 AM

The following evidence will be needed at this hearing and you should come prepared to provide this evidence.

Information pertaining to the vehicle and the Bill-of-Sale.
The number of miles on the previous October 1.
Evidence of market value as of the previous October 1.

Sincerely,

Hopefully, I will be successful in my protest and I’ll be due some money back this year and pay less in subsequent years.

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I suspect very few people bother to do this given the hassle of finding the documentation and proof needed and taking time to attend a hearing. I hope it will be worth my time.

Either way, expect an update around the end of the month.